Historians have traditionally seen domestic service as an obsolete or redundant sector from the middle of the twentieth century. Knowing Their Place challenges this by linking the early twentieth century employment of maids and cooks to later practices of employing au pairs, mothers' helps, and cleaners. Lucy Delap tells the story of lives and labour within twentieth century British homes, from great houses to suburbs and slums, and charts the interactions of servants and employers along with the intense controversies and emotions they inspired. Knowing Their Place examines the employment of men and migrant workers, as well as the role of laughter and erotic desire in shaping domestic service. The memory of domestic service and the role of the past in shaping and mediating the present is examined through heritage and televisual sources, from Upstairs, Downstairs toThe 1900 House. Drawing from advice manuals, magazines, novels, cinema, memoirs, feminist tracts, and photographs, this fascinating book will be of particular interest to scholars and students of Modern history, English literature, anthropology, cultural studies, social geography, gender studies, and women's studies.
It points to new directions in cultural history through its engagement in innovative areas such as the history of emotions and cultural memory. Through its attention to the contemporary rise in the employment of domestic workers, Knowing Their Place sets 'modern' Britain in a new and compelling historical context.